The 2022 Guide to Heat Maps – How and When to Use Them?

Heat map. Get it? Like a map with heat? Okay, you are not here for that joke. I see! But admit, it is a good meme. And, I made this meme, unlike some other people. Whatever, you are here to learn about heatmaps, aren’t you?

Then, you shall find answers to the questions of what a heatmap is and how to read a heatmap with a heatmap example. What are you waiting for? Continue reading!

What is a Heat Map?

what is a heatmap

A heat map can be defined as a graphical representation of data based on user behavior on a given webpage. Heat maps utilize a system of color-coding to represent the user behaviors – red means that the user activity is high and blue means user activity is low. It quite resembles weather maps, to be fair. It can help you better visualize the data and educate yourself through a more comprehensible way of evaluating data.

Heatmap software can help you visually see and analyze data.

 Why do you need a heat map?

why do you need a heatmap

Analytics tools show you only which pages get more visitors. However, they lack information regarding how your visitors interact with the pages of your website. Heat maps become useful at this stage. They show you how your visitors interact with your page.

Heat maps also make data more visual. This means that when someone who is not skilled at dealing with a massive amount of data looks at the heat map you provide, they will immediately get the concept and understand how your visitors behave.

Another benefit of good heat maps is that you can understand which demographic of visitors interact with your page in what ways. This way, you can segment the visitor base and make changes according to the demographics.

Types of Heatmaps

types of heatmap

There are three types of heat maps primarily used in the industry. You can start these maps when you need them the most, essentially – meaning that when to use a heatmap is a redundant question.

The first map you have is the hover map. Hover maps show where people hover with their mouse on your webpage. These maps follow the logic that if people hover their mouse over something, they are looking at it. The one challenge of utilizing such a map is that generally, people let their mouse stay in one place and look somewhere else.

The second type of heat map is click map. Click maps, as their name suggests, focus on the areas where your visitors click the most. This is a great way to understand how the visitors navigate their way through your website. Also, with the help of click maps, you can understand which parts of your webpage attract the attention of your visitors and make them click.

The final type of heat map is a scroll map. This map will show you how far people are scrolling on your page. Scroll maps also show you where your visitors drop off scrolling. It is especially useful for understanding and measuring how engaging your pages are. For example, your blog posts have to be engaging if you want people to read them. So, you can use this map type to understand how engaging they are.

Reading a Heat Map Effectively

reading a heatmap

Now that you have incorporated a heat map into your website, you will have to analyze it. However, you need to know some key points in order to read a heat map efficiently. There are three questions you have to keep in your mind when it comes to reading a heat map.

1- Do Your Visitors See the Important Content?

This is the number one question you should always ask when dealing with heat maps. After all, your web pages contain lots of content for your customers to see. If they are not paying attention to what’s important on your site, you can make adjustments to the site. This question especially works best with scroll maps.

When asking this question, you should pay attention to some key points. One of them is the position of average fold – which indicates the portion when a person lands on your webpage without scrolling. This way, you can confirm that people see the most crucial information at first glance. If they do not, you have to keep them so engaged that they have to scroll down to see what is important.

The next thing you should do is to check whether or not a high percentage of people are seeing specific page areas. This becomes handy when you are dealing with longer pages – such as the landing page, where you provide lots of information.

Another point to consider is the sharp changes in color. They indicate that people are suddenly dropped out looking for the information you provide. If there are sudden color changes, you have to understand the reasons behind this behavior. It might be due to people thinking they come to the end of the page, for example.

2- Do Your Visitors Click on Links, CTAs, etc.?

You have a website because people desire to find information, sign up for your services, or obtain a product. This question should be asked when you are using a click map. On a click map, you have to see if people are clicking on CTAs, buttons, and links that will lead to people taking desired actions. This way, you can understand how much interaction these clickable items get.

A benefit of this insight is to create a basis for your potential design changes. If you are ever to make a design change for your webpage, you can use click maps to compare attitudes and see the success of your new design.

3- Do Your Visitors Get Confused due to Non-Clickable Items?

These items, sometimes, can cause frustration and confusion for your visitors due to them looking like they are clickable. This question is highly linked to the question before. If they are distracted from accomplishing a goal, they will probably leave your site with frustration. Then, you will end up with a number of potential customers who could not take the desired action on your behalf.

After you ask these questions and read heat maps more efficiently, you can take some steps for improvement. What can these steps be, you ask? Read on!

4 tips to getting the most out of your Heat Maps

how to get the most out of heatmaps

After all, it is a paid service for you. So, you want to make the most out of your heat maps. This way, you can really make changes to your website according to the data you have. So, how can you make the most out of it? Let’s see.

1- Comprehend the User Intent

Visual analytics and visual data bring you a great chance to grasp how your visitors behave. With the help of heat maps, as it is stated before, you can understand which parts of any given page get the most attention. In other words, you can determine which parts of the page your visitors just skip and what makes them stick to the content.

In order to boost user intent, you have to look for great openings – meaning that you can adjust your website according to the filters and menu options that your visitors interact with the most and present them first to enhance the user intent. Also, it is useful to compare the search and heat map data so that you can find new keywords, for example, to use in your next ad campaign.

Incorporating Google Analytics into your readings will be helpful in that you can learn the bounce rates and how much time your visitors spend on your website.

2- Optimize the Page 

In some cases, the structure of the website seems to be something you just try to navigate to the best of your ability. I am sure you know that white space, H2, H3, and the like are pretty important. Nonetheless, you should always bear in mind that there can be more factors than what you would assume, which would lead to a great user experience

Heatmaps are most frequently and effectively used to understand how customers interact with certain on-page features like CTA buttons when there is friction and visitors are moving around the site.

3- Optimize the Length of the Content

Google has always been pointing out that the word count does not matter when it comes to the quality of content. So, your main focus should be providing answers to your visitors’ questions instead of taking too much space. Your webpage and website, in general, have to be flawlessly matching with the questions of your target audience. Heat maps become handy in this regard.

Let us set up a context in which you are using a scroll map. This scroll map can be used in order to figure out the amount of information your visitors need on a particular topic. With the help of a scroll map, you can see where they just stop scrolling or exit your page. Then, you have to find what they are doing next. There are some questions you should ask, which are;

  • Do your visitors leave your site for good, or do they obtain the information and move on?
  • What do your competitors provide them regarding this particular topic?
  • How can you make this piece of content better?

4- Easy to Navigate

Let’s just give a thought to the products and websites you really like. It is highly possible you like them since they are plain and easy to find – you don’t have to puzzle your brain to identify these products. Now, you should be able to see that you have to adopt simplicity and refrain from intricacy.

Heat maps come to your aid with this regard. The way that people interact and behave with your website can be an indicator of the potential weaknesses of your website. These weaknesses might be the reason why you are not getting the results you desire to get.

Finally, our guide to reading a heatmap ends here. I want to personally thank you for sticking to this post until the end of it. What a post it is, eh? So, now that you know heatmaps, why don’t you go and start using them? You shall not wait! Go, now!

Frequently Asked Questions


What does a heatmap tell you?

A heat map tells you how your visitors interact with your website according to the type of heat map. These interactions might indicate that there can be some problems with your website or that web page specifically.


Why are heat maps bad?

Generally, heat maps are referred to as bad due to them being only focused on one single webpage. The opposing people argue that today’s websites are more dynamic rather than static. Heat maps, according to them, are of old age.


Are heat maps useful?

Yes, of course! With the heat maps, you can understand UX, content engagement, and several other things on your webpage, then enhance them according to the way your visitors interact with them.

guide to heatmaps

Join 9,000+ teams creating better experiences

14-Day Free Trial, with an extra 30-Day Money Back Guarantee!

guide to heatmaps

Share this article:

Mert Aktas

Mert is the Marketing Manager of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that helps teams scale user onboarding and boost user engagement.

Copy link